Everyone in the hospitality biz is abuzz with the importance of social media for driving traffic, managing reputation, connecting with customers and ultimately increasing sales. But there is an awful lot to keep track of out there. Where do you start? What do you do? How do you do it with little to no budget or staff?

Easy.

1. Integrate user photos – Online reviews are impacting buying decisions like never before. People will trust complete strangers’ opinions before they’ll rely on a corporate site for product research. In fact, some 84% of Americans say that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. What better way to let customers communicate with each other than by adding features that allow them to share and review photos? After all, isn’t a picture worth a thousand words? Head to Flickr to learn how to incorporate their photo sharing technology. Let your guests sell your property or destination for you with their own photos and stories. Beats paying a photographer.

2. Create viral videos – Gone are the simpler days when search engine results consisted solely of websites. Now videos, news reels, blog RSS feeds and images are intermingled among the results and these new media listings are growing in popularity. Why not start a YouTube channel where you can post quick, candid videos from around your property, introduce staff members or interview guests? These videos don’t have to take a lot of time, money or expensive equipment. The best viral videos are almost always filmed on grainy cell phone cameras. Have some fun with it.

3. Join the conversation – Start a blog. It’s a free and easy way to communicate with potential customers. Be sure to post frequently, but if you’re strapped for time simply focus on quality and relevance over quantity. If you’re not a wordsmith, try microblogging at Twitter. Each post is limited to 140 characters so there is no chance you’ll get roped into writing a research paper each time.

Social media makes it easier to connect with consumers, engage in the online conversation and increase your online presence. Get started today.

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